Chip Kelly has already said that he’s going to run the ball more than the Eagles did last year, and with Andy Reid’s gameplan, that shouldn’t be too hard. With this change in philosophy comes a need for the team to change, and I think they’re ready for that. The fact that Maclin is already out for season shows that they’ll be even more forced to run the ball. And they don’t have many solid wide receivers, so it would be a challenge to have another season of 4,000 yards passing. What they need is a solid year from their two top running backs, LeSean McCoy and Bryce Brown.
McCoy rushed for 840 yards and 2 touchdowns last season before getting a concussion and missing the last few games of the regular season. He likely would’ve broken the 1,000 yard mark again, but it was obvious that he was off his game and was having a lesser year than the year before. The fact that he had more receiving touchdowns (3) than rushing touchdowns suggests that there was something wrong in his game. Plus, he lost three fumbles, and when you have more fumbles than touchdowns, it’s very bad.
Then came Bryce Brown, the high school star who went to college at Tennessee, left the team, transferred to Kansas State, left that team, entered the draft, and wasn’t drafted till the seventh round. He was snagged by the Eagles in the draft in a low risk, high reward situation. They were certainly given the high reward last season, or at least for the most part. He made his first start on Monday Night Football against the Panthers and rushed for 178 yards and 2 touchdowns. This performance came out of nowhere, and it really began to excite Eagles fans. Despite this great performance, he fumbled twice, blowing the game. The next week he started again and rushed for 169 yards and two touchdowns, but fumbled again and they lost the game. Then his struggles came.
He couldn’t keep these performances up, despite the new high expectations from both fans and coaches. In his third start, he carried the ball 12 times for 6 yards, a pitiful 0.5 YPC. The next week he had 16 carries for 34 yards, averaging only just over 2 YPC, which is still bad. He didn’t fumble in either game, but he didn’t score either. His next two games were not much better, combining for 12 carries for 36 yards. Those two outstanding games proved that he has potential, but he’s still a work in progress at this point. He still needs to improve and hold onto the ball while becoming more consistent.
The bottom line is the Eagles’ running backs need to be efficient and get into the endzone this year. Combining for 2,000 yards would be a great feat, but it definitely seems in the question. If McCoy can get 1,400 and Brown gets 600, then they’re there already. But they will need some help from the offensive line, which is a totally different story. Either way, if they don’t produce, they won’t win.